Rachel Jane Reeves (born 13 February 1979) is a British Labour Party politician and an economist. She has served as the Member of Parliament for Leeds West since 2010.
Reeves was Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2013 but did not return to the shadow cabinet after her maternity leave following Jeremy Corbyn's victory in the 2015 Labour Leadership Election.
The daughter of Graham and Sally Reeves of Lewisham, South East London, she was educated at Cator Park School for Girls in Bromley. At school, Reeves was the UK Under-14 girls chess champion.
After A-Levels in Politics, Economics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics, Reeves read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at New College, Oxford (MA), followed by graduating as MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.
Reeves cites the influence of her father on her and her sister in leaning towards social democratic policies. She recalls how when she was eight years old her father, Graham, pointed out the then-Labour leader Neil Kinnock on the television and "told us that was who we voted for". Reeves says she and her sister have "both known we were Labour since then". She joined the Labour Party at age 16.
Reeves worked as an economist at the Bank of England and British Embassy in Washington, D.C. between 2000 and 2006.
She stood as the Labour Party parliamentary candidate in the Conservative safe seat Bromley and Chislehurst in the 2005 general election, finishing second. She again contested the 2006 by-election for the same seat following the death of sitting MP Eric Forth and finished fourth. Labour support reduced from 10,241 votes to 1,925 in what was described as a "humiliation" for Labour. The result was the worst performance for a governing party since 1991.
Reeves moved to Leeds in 2006 to work for HBOS. She was once interviewed for a job at Goldman Sachs but turned it down. She said the job could have made her "a lot richer". She later sought nomination for the Leeds West seat at the 2010 General Election. to replace John Battle, who had chosen to retire. She was selected by the Labour Party to contest the seat from an all-women shortlist of Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidates.
Echoing similar titles of publications by Roy Jenkins in 1959 and Tony Wright in 1997, Reeves wrote the new edition of Why Vote Labour? in the run-up to the 2010 election, as part of a series giving the case for each of the main political parties.
Member of Parliament
Reeves was elected with a majority of 7,016 on 6 May 2010, a 5,794 reduction in majority compared to her predecessor, becoming only the second woman to represent a Leeds constituency. Reeves is currently writing the biography of Alice Bacon, who was the first female MP to represent the City of Leeds (from 1945 to 1970).
In her maiden speech, delivered on 8 June 2010, Reeves praised the work of her predecessor, John Battle and pledged to fight for jobs, growth and prosperity for Leeds West. Reeves also pledged to follow in Battle's footsteps and fight for justice for the victims of the Armley asbestos disaster and their families. In a series of questions in Parliament, Reeves enquired whether the government would honour promises by the previous government to compensate victims of asbestos diagnosed with pleural plaques and bring legislation into force making it easier to pursue claims against insurers.
After the 2010 election she supported Ed Miliband for the Labour leadership, because she felt he was the candidate most willing to listen to what the voters were saying about where the party went wrong. Since becoming an MP, Reeves was appointed to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee then as Shadow Pensions Minister in October 2010. In her role as Shadow Pensions Minister she campaigned against the Government's proposed acceleration of equalising state pensions ages for men and women. She was promoted to the post of Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in October 2011. She caused controversy in early 2015 by stating "We [Labour] don’t want to be seen, and we're not, the party to represent those who are out of work".
Reeves has been named by The Guardian newspaper as being one of several MPs who employ unpaid interns, a practice that some maintain may breach the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. The Independent newspaper has named Reeves as a member of a group of new Labour MPs known as the "Nando's Five": the others being Luciana Berger, Jonathan Reynolds, Emma Reynolds and Chuka Umunna.
In September 2016 she described her constituency as being "like a tinderbox" that could explode if immigration was not curbed.
Reeves has written a study about the Financial Crisis of 2007–2010 for the Fabian Review, Institute of Public Policy Research, Socialist Environment and Resources Association, and the European Journal of Political Economy. Following her election as MP, Reeves wrote about the direction of UK government fiscal policy in Renewal. In an article entitled "The Politics of Deficit Reduction", Reeves offers her critique of the current financial situation and efforts to bring down the budget deficit.
Reeves is a proponent of Quantitative Easing to alleviate the late-2000s recession, having studied the effects of the policy on Japan in the early 2000s.
Reeves supports the High Speed Rail project, and raised the issue in Parliament, as well as campaigning for the proposed Kirkstall Forge railway station. She is also involved in the campaign to save the historic Bramley Baths and the campaign to save the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
She is a supporter of Israel, writing a chapter for a book about Israeli politics and society, and she is a keen supporter of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. Reeves has been an officer for pro-Israel lobby group Labour Friends of Israel.
Reeves regularly contributes articles to publications such as the website LabourList, Progress and The Guardian's Comment is Free.
Government credit card
Reeves' government credit card was stopped at the start of 2015 due to a debt of £4,033.63 which she subsequently repaid.
Reeves is married to Nicholas Joicey, a civil servant and former private secretary and speech writer to Gordon Brown. She and her husband have homes in Bramley and London.
Reeves' younger sister, Ellie, is a member of Labour's National Executive Committee and Joint Policy Committee, and is married to John Cryer, Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead. Reeves announced her first pregnancy on 20 September 2012, giving birth to a daughter. Her children were born in 2013 and 2015.
Reeves says she spends her free time swimming, reading and walking. Reeves is a Patron of Bramley Elderly Action and a Trustee of Leeds Healthy Living Network. She was previously on the board of BARCA – Leeds and a governor of Swallow Hill Community College, and Kirkstall Valley Primary School.
A Fellow of the Fabian Society, Reeves also belongs to Labour Friends of Israel.